Plain sailing with ship-shape beauty at Tanglewood in Currabinny

Inspired by the sea, stunning Tanglewood is a perfect place to drop anchor, says Tommy Barker.

Plain sailing with ship-shape beauty at Tanglewood in Currabinny

Currabinny, Cork

€1.2 million

Sq m 418 (4,500 sq ft)

Bedrooms: 4

Bathrooms: 4


Best Feature: Nautical and nice

In world-class super-yacht terms, you generally get about one meter’s length of high-end, high-spec boat for every €1 million you spend.

And, given the concentration of global wealth in new hands, it seems there are plenty out there still able to spend €50m and even €100m on floating palaces, to display of wealth, power and influence.

Now, for a mere €1.2m (or about a 1.2 metre/4’ long section of super-yacht,) the slightly better heeled amongst us can pursue the water-aspected, and well-anchored Tanglewood.

It’s an exceptional – and, yes, world-class home and gardens – safe and secure in Cork harbour’s wooded and wonderful Currabinny.

Originally a 1920s summer home built for a Miss Kathleen Sutton and her sister, and designed by Harrington & Buchan architects, it’s had a series of caring owners, international and local.

Now, its retired Cork owner – a businessmen and clearly a lover of the sea and sailing – is selling on, and trading down. After nearly 15 years in residence, it and its grounds are in better order, and – dare to say, more ship-shape – than ever in its almost 100 years of proud standing.

It last changed hands about 15 years ago, and was then given a meticulous assessment, re-ordering and makeover, complete with no-holds barred nautical theme in a loft conversion above its attached double garage.

That space, dubbed the east upper floor, is now home to two guest bedrooms with bathroom.

It’s reached via an arched doorway, and circular vestibule, with curved panelled walls and wood floor sections in contrasting varnished white oak and cherry timbers off the long entrance hall; it all clearly indicates that something special may follow up on top.

Hardwood steps, with discrete inset red LED lights under the part-carpeted treads, continue to build intrigue: exclusive nightclub? Eddie Jordan’s yacht? More of the latter, really, definitely marine themed, a port in a storm.

These two upper deck bedrooms, off a knot’s landing, are finished an unabashed nautical style, sort of master cabins done to the highest standards on some plush Caribbean or Mediterranean private cruiser.

One of the rooms has a small porthole window, and it’s almost overkill (though on a tiny scale, as the boat theme is already so well delivered and berthed.)

Unsurprisingly, as it turns out, the design eye and guiding hand behind this wonder is none other than yacht and interiors designer Rob Jacob. He’s based in Kinsale in a long-established company called JLS ( and working in partnership since 1995 with Pat Lynch.

Both men previously worked with leading yacht designer Ron Holland, and knew from their time in his studio the number of clients who wanted their homes or apartments interiors also done to international marine standards. (JLS Design have also done numerous bars, hotels such as the Trident and Blue Haven, Kinsale Yacht Club and, most recently, a Fishy Fishy re-fit.)

Delivering on the design brief in these luxury cabin-like, cherry wood enriched bedrooms was fifth generation skilled woodworker David Crowley, based in Bunmahon, Waterford: his firm’s craftsmanship (do check is simply awe-inspiring, and Crowleys’ clients have included Michael Flatley, in Castlehyde, Cork, and other upper echelon work in London and beyond.

And, it’s here, almost gratis, in Tanglewood’s other rooms also, in a wood-lined private library/study, replete with books on voyages, boats and regattas, and in the main family room, and linked sun-room, again with walls lined in gloss-varnished fine timbers.

The oft-familiar expression “no expense spared” earns its keep here at Tanglewood, where no efforts were spared either, in areas of calm, understated design, interiors, finishes, outside spaces and garden sanctuaries, and in extensive landscaping and themed garden sections, with stream dropping through in stoney layers to a formal rectangular pond, and on to water/harbour views beyond.

Perversely, it almost doesn’t matter if any fortunate new owners of Tanglewood are as much in love with boats, and the sea, as the departing occupant: they can just look out at the waters of Cork harbour, and take satisfaction from that alone, without dipping any other toe in the water.

Coming up for sale now, and with a wide, wide appeal to a narrow buying niche, Tanglewood ticks lots and lots of boxes.

It is both spacious and south-facing, with water aspect, and all the main rooms look out over Crosshaven, marinas, boatyard and, eastwards, the wider harbour expanses, and there’s always marine traffic on the go, tides on the changes, and fauna to follow.

For flora lovers, the shrubbed and scrubbed gardens and paths and walks and patios are over an acre, and are professionally landscaped, pruned, primped and pristine.

They slope up to the secure back boundary, where there’s a private gate up into the paths through Currabinny’s Coillte woods, which lead in more uphill curves to the old Octagon teahouse and harbour vantage point.

The same private gardens here include water features and Japanese-like ponds, brick and timber pergola walk with fragrant climbers, tiers of stone-flagged patios, a circular garden room with seating and a folded copper roof (to match another copper roof over the garden-room), plus a block-built garden shed by the cul de sac road’s end above Currabinny pier.

Bringing a bit of contemporary edge to this 1920s part-timbered beauty of a build, redone with love, is a recently-added on front deck. It has got curves in all of the right places, and delineated by a long run of frameless, vertical glass balustrade, in self-cleaning glass, set into a copper sheet plinth.

The painstakingly-done drystone wall below this glazed elegance and transparent wind-screen is tall, done mostly in limestone, with just one marine insert, a subtle motif of sails in contrasting sandstone. Even in the stonework, the boat has been pushed out.

Again, bang up to date are the solar panels set behind the house atop a wooden structure which houses a generator, to keep this place ticking over even in the worst of winters and storms – it does indeed seem like the sort of place you’d happily batten down the hatches at for any length of time, safe and secure.

Selling agents for Tanglewood are Catherine McAuliffe and Michael of Donovan of Cork’s Savills office, and they can expect interest from far, and wide, from local merchant princes, captains of industry and CEOs of pharma plants, as well as from blow-ins.

It’ll seem like a snip to a UK-based Sterling buyer, at the equivalent of £880,000, the price of a well-located one-bed London apartment or, as already suggested, about 4’ length of super-yacht.

Savills director Ms McAuliffe describes this 4,500 sq ft home as “a world-class waterfront property, in exceptionally good condition, on immaculately maintained grounds”. It shows what can be done when, indeed, money really isn’t any object and when the end result is the object.

The owner has had a long background in business, and in retail and commercial property development: it shows up immediately here in the willingness to make this home as accommodating as possible, all year round.

That’s not just seen in things like the deck’s glass balustrading, but also in accoutrements like the electrically-operated Sanderson

sun blinds which can be unfurled across the house’s southernmost reception rooms for screening of flare and glare, and to prevent overheating. More of these blinds (also in cheerily-coloured canary yellows) extend on the western end, from the study’s garden door towards the pergola, like well-secured spinnakers.

Catering for all stages of life and levels of mobility, this adaptable house has a four-person lift in the main, original section next to the principal staircase; it gives easy access to Tanglewoood’s individual range of first floor rooms, uniformly set to a high standard of comfort, design and plumbing, and laid out effectively as two suites, each with lots of storage, dressing rooms, and luxurious wash spaces.

One is effectively a large wet-room, ideal for anyone with mobility issues, or for hosing down smallies after days out on the water, on beaches or mudflats, or up in the woods.

Right now, in current use, the layout is probably best for older families, as there’s a bit of distance (and two separate staircases) between the two, super-accommodating bedroom suites and the other two wood-lined ‘cabin’ bedrooms. But, getting at least a third bedroom into the main core is probably a quite easy reordering task, without any need to extend, if very young children need to be kept under close watch.

Downstairs, there’s an eminently practical layout, with most of the reception rooms linking independently off the rear hall corridor. There’s a bright kitchen, with top appliances (Gaggenau, et al,) oak worktops, next to a casual breakfast/dining section with east-facing bay window, and next up is a family room with floor-to-ceiling windows.

It’s alongside an even more extensively glazed sun-room, with its high, vaulted ceiling with an external folded copper metal roof, and both rooms here have long sections of polished brass-grid heating vents down at floor level.

Back behind this sunny, health-inducing spot (and dividing doors slide back into the dividing wood-lined walls,) is a formal drawing room, softly carpeted, with hushed decor, a marble fireplace with brass insert, and with display alcoves on either side.

Following the principles of good design, the rooms further back to the northern side of the hall include a guest WC/cloakroom, utility room/laundry, with small windows, and at the western end is a study/library, in two sections, wholly shelved and book lined, with gas-insert fireplace.

With its fragrant, western patio garden access, it’s a perfect evening room to retire to with a good book, and a snifter of something bracing from the cellar, while for beer drinkers, there a collection of silver tankards, won in sailing regattas down the years and the many cups and trophies, in this low-key trophy harbour home.

Even after its garage loft conversion to visitors/sailors/first mates’ apartment with nautical bedrooms (one has two sets of bespoke bunks) it’s about 4,500 sq ft, smaller than many of the Celtic Tiger era new-builds scattered around the countryside, and few can match this one-off with original Buchan design and subsequent sensitive upgrades, for its site, mature gardens, and swift access to city and airport, all by the water’s edge.

And, despite all of the understated luxury, and the very best of craftsmanship, at its heart Tanglewood is essentially, a great, comfortable Cork home, on the sort of daffodil-strewn gardens that can easily hold their heads up with the best of Currabinny’s noted gardening set, in this most beautiful of wooded and waterside settings.

VERDICT: As perfect for the have-yachts as the have-nots.

Pictures: Denis Scannell

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